The Yosemite Five

Last year, I got the chance to start the new year with a road trip to Grand Canyon! It was my first time hiking in the snow and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to adventure with!

I was fortunate enough to travel again in the start of this new year! I went to Yosemite for the second time in the span of 9 months. Though my first time to Yosemite was in the spring, I was more curious to experience Yosemite in the winter with the snow!

On our way from SoCal to Yosemite, we made our first stop at Benaddiction in Fresno. We were pretty hungry after driving so many miles and found a place to eat via Yelp. It’s a small restaurant that can probably fit a max of 30 people. Due to the small capacity of the restaurant, the wait for us to be seated took some time. We saw hangry customers leave after waiting several minutes. If you plan to check out Benaddiction, keep in mind that it’s a small restaurant, it gets busy, and they close at 3PM!

Benaddiction is known for their breakfast and brunch entrees. I ended up getting a burger because it was past lunch time by the time we got seated and I wasn’t feeling breakfast. The burger was packed with a huge slice of tomato and shredded lettuce. The burger wasn’t anything that special as I expected but it did the job filling me up since I was hungry!

After lunch, we kept driving north until we got to our AirBnB place. We had a hard time finding our place since the street signs were hidden and it was getting dark too. We circled around the neighborhood for quite a long time and somehow we found it after lucking out on a turn!

Note to future self: Check-in at AirBnB place before the sun sets so it’s easy to find especially in rural areas where they like to hide street signs and house numbers.

Once we got to our AirBnB place, we chilled for a bit and then prepped for dinner. We had some fancy lasagna from Costco with a side of corn and garlic bread. We raised our glasses with Martinelli’s Apple Cider and made a toast for our trip! Can’t go wrong with that! While we were eating, we played some classical music in the background and ate with our pinky’s up. We fancy.

We went for a walk in the dark after dinner. Literally, it was pitch black outside. I had to hold onto some hoodies to make sure I was walking in the right direction. I may or may not be afraid of the dark. Don’t judge!

It was beautiful outside seeing some stars but it was also scary. I wasn’t sure if some animal was going to pop out of nowhere. It was just the five of us walking down a lonely road.

We ended first day with an episode of The Man in the High Castle. It was my first time ever hearing about it but I surprisingly enjoyed it. I think everyone else knocked out except me and maybe one or two others. I can’t remember who knocked out because I was really into the show.

The next day, we packed our lunches in the morning and headed out officially to Yosemite National Park!

We actually had a rough start to Yosemite. We entered the park and we were required to put chains on. We purchased some chains from Walmart earlier and that was not a good idea.

I repeat it was not a good idea.

Probably for a good hour, we struggled with them chains. They were straight up real chains with links on them.

First, we had a hard time putting them on in the cold, very cold weather. Once we got them on, we were driving around and something was not right. We heard some clunking noises. As we were driving, we passed by a bunch of Asian tourists standing outside. They were watching us drive by and the look on their faces was priceless. They looked concerned for us. Oh, you could tell they were deeply concerned.

We pulled over and thought we knew where the clunky noise was coming from so we tightened up the chains. Then we started driving again but heard the noise again! We pulled over for two or three more times to tighten things up. We were pretty confident for the first few times that we figured out where the noise was coming from but at some point, we were like, “Let’s be safe and just go back and buy new chains from that guy.”

We backtracked and bought chains from the guy on the side of the road. That was probably the best idea ever. Those chains were thin, easy to put on, and definitely quiet. And no tourist looked at us weird.

I think we spent two hours in total trying to figure out our chain issue. BUT! It was great teamwork and we all learned something new that morning. Too bad we don’t have a picture of us with the crazy chains. Maybe some moments aren’t meant to be captured.

Ok, now onto the fun stuff! We didn’t hike any strenuous trails since they were all closed due to the weather. We made multiple stops within the park and took a brisk walk to see some beautiful sites!

Tunnel View

On our way to Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall

Even though the picture below is blurry from the mist, I still had to share it because there was so much potential in this picture looking beautiful.

Yosemite Valley

Major PC to Kevin! Thanks for taking this awesome shot!

On our way to Vernal Fall

Photo credit to whoever was at the bottom either Kevin or Susan! 


We ended up not being able to hike up the whole trail to Vernal Fall. It was blocked off midpoint because of the snow. It was still nice being able to hike up halfway and have our lunches up there with the drizzle.

We were able to make a lot of stops within one day and experience the beauty of Yosemite with the snow. There were moments when it was snowing and felt so magical! Going to Yosemite during the winter is a MUST! It’s a complete whole different experience compared to any other season.

I heard that you’re able to ice skate somewhere outside in Yosemite. If the opportunity comes around again to go to Yosemite during the winter, I hope to ice skate then!

The trip was short and sweet! I’m thankful that we played in the snow and that no car was damaged from the chains! Yay, us!

 

Memorable Moments of 2016

Before the new year starts, I want to share some memorable moments from 2016!

January – I started 2016 with a road trip to Grand Canyon and hiked in the snow! I do have to share that the picture below was featured in VSCO!

Also, my sister got married in January! I was hoping to share a family picture but they all came out blurry on my phone. I got my sister a photo booth for her wedding so here’s a picture of me, myself, and I.

 

February – I went to my first pageant! I cheered on Elise who looked amazing and did a great job! I can’t wait to see where her future takes her.


March – 
I would love to hike Big Horn Mine again! I discovered Big Horn Mine thanks to some local popular Instagrammers who are adventurous.


April – 
Yosemite was just breathtaking. The hikes were strenuous but all worth the pain.


May – 
Thanks to Instagram again, I found another scenic hike to check out. We got lost during the hike and someone thought I was a doctor. At the end of it all, we had fun!


June – 
I babysat two kids for the first time and took them to Medieval Times! No one cried, wew!


July –
I took my last tap class at Jimmie DeFore Dance Center before they closed down. This dance center taught me that it’s never too late to pick up your old hobbies.


August – 
My friends and I got our nails done for my birthday! I was very thankful to have spent time with them while getting our nails done and having fellowship over dinner! Can’t forget how Brio Tuscan Grill gave us two complimentary dessert!

In August, my friends and I made a quick trip to Vegas. Everything was comp’d, literally. We ate, walked around, slept, ate, walked around, napped, ate some more, and went back home. Literally.


September – 
I flew out to Oregon for some fresh finds! It was a short and sweet trip that made me realize that I love nature and need to hike whenever I travel.


October – 
For the first time, I started teaching piano to my niece and nephew!

November – One of my sisters and I decided to visit our old elementary school teachers. These two teachers made an impact on my family 19 years ago. We wanted to stop by their classrooms and say thank you with some cupcakes!

December – I have amazing friends who are talented, kind, and funny. I’m thankful that we were able to come together to eat, play, and laugh.

Just like that, 2016 is coming to an end.

I cannot believe the new year is less than 24 hours away! I’m not ready for it but I’m looking forward to new challenges to overcome and step outside of my comfort zone. I can’t wait to travel and hike more!

Thank you, friends and family, for making 2016 a great year. There were some bumps along the road, but hey, we made it! Cheers to a new year and many more blessings to come!

Big Horn Mine Hike

I was on Instagram one night and noticed that Patrick Manalo, a photographer in the SoCal area who I follow on IG, posted some scenic pictures that just seemed so different from any hiking pictures I have ever seen! I looked into where he had gone which was Big Horn Mine and then I just had to go too!

By the way, I have no idea how I found Patrick Manalo on Instagram. I’m pretty sure he was on my Explorer page and I found a lot of his pictures aligned with my interests such as food, travel, and adventures.

I posted some information and pictures about this hike on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to join me on this adventure. A good amount of my friends were interested so I created a Facebook event to get the ball rolling. I planned about one month in advance because I knew this hike wasn’t just going to be a simple morning activity that friends can stop by. It was going to be an all day thing.

I’m a planner so I had a rough itinerary planned out so my friends knew what to expect throughout this whole adventure. I ended up being pretty on point with my agenda but below is the schedule you might want to follow accordingly if you plan to check it out:

  • 8:30am – Leave Orange County
  • 10:00am – Arrive at  Grassy Hallow Visitors Center to purchase a $5 Adventure Day Pass. This is to pay for parking. Apparently you can purchase this ahead of time at REI.
  • 10:15am – Begin the hike. Take breaks and pictures. Go into the mine!
  • 2:00pm – Approximately the time we got back to our car
  • 2:45pm – Lunch at Ichi Ichi in Rowland Heights and milk tea at Tenju Tea House
  • 5:30pm – Arrive home and rest

If you can, I suggest that you pick up the Adventure Day Pass ahead of time. Grassy Hallow Visitors Center doesn’t open until 10:00am sharp! If you hike earlier in the morning, you will be able to avoid the crowd at the time. By the time we got to to the mine, we had the whole area to ourselves so it was really nice to enjoy the scene. An hour later, there were probably more 20 people onsite and we weren’t able to take decent pictures.

Here are some tips to share with you about this whole hike:

  • If you’re going to get there before 9am, you might want to dress warm (in March). We were surprised how cold it was that morning. It was forecasted to be high 60 degrees and low 40 degrees. Once we started hiking, it definitely got warm.
  • I was not able to find an exact address to get to this site but if you type in Big Horn Mine or Glassy Hallow Visitors Center on Apple or Google Maps, it will show up. It will be fine to follow those directions.
    • You are going to lose reception once you are up in the mountains. Prior to your drive, save the location on your map. Follow the directions from Business Insider on how to save a map without Wi-Fi.
    • If you forget to save the map, just know that if you drive by Inspiration Point first and then Grassy Hallow Visitors Center, then you’re heading towards the right direction. There will be a dead end and you will see a lot where you can park. Don’t forget to hang your parking pass up!
  • After you park, it can get a little confusing on which trail to take because there are a few different ones. You will see a white gate and right behind that gate is the trail you want to take to see the mine. This hike is a little less than 4 miles round trip.
  • There is another trail you can take that is to the far right of the white gate. It’s a skinny hidden trail. I think that trail might be the longer route, 8 miles round trip. You might be able to see an empty cabin and see some snow if you take that route. There might be some restrictions from experiencing the whole hike based upon weather.
  • Make sure you have hiking shoes on that are sturdy and waterproof. There were a lot of uneven and sharp rocks so it was nice to have my feet protected. If you wear your regular Nike shoes, you’ll definitely feel the pain. I recommend waterproof boots also because when we went into the mine, there was a stream that the guys accidentally stepped in.
  • Make sure to bring:
    • Headlamp – It’s nice to use this when you’re in the mine over your smart phone and it feels cool to wear one
    • Extra socks & shoes – Just in case you step in water and it’s nice to wear a fresh pair of socks and comfortable shoes after the hike
    • Water – You’ll get thirsty in the beginning of the hike because of the uphil
    • Sunglasses, hat, & sunscreen – It got pretty sunny on our way up so make sure to protect yourself from burns

Ok, I hope those were some helpful tips for you! I did a lot of Googling and reading Yelp reviews.

Onto the fun stuff, pictures!

Inspirational pose at Inspiration Point-

Inspirational friends-

When you see this, that’s when you know you’ve made it!

This is what the view looks like when you’re actually there!

Ok, Tim got some pretty cool pictures. I’m a little jealous.

Above all of these unprotected metal posts was a mine shaft! We had to climb up some old wooden planks to get there. It was a little scary but we made our way up. To get through, we had to limbo our way into this gated fence. This mine shaft was pitch black and dead quiet but with friends and flashlights, we were able to make it out alive. I wish I had taken pictures here but I didn’t want to risk dropping my camera in an unfamiliar area with minimal lighting.

You will definitely want to check out the mine. We walked pretty deep into the mine but stopped at some point because it was getting too hard to see where the trail was leading us.

Afterwards, we went back outside and took more pictures!

I have no idea how Tim and Edward got up there but all I can say is that they were brave.

By the time we were done touring around the main site, it was getting crowded there. As a result we weren’t able to take a good selfie group picture! 

Going downhill was quick and easy. We probably got back to our car in less than 45 minutes. It was so much easier than going up!

We had some thin Oreos on our way down and it definitely brightened our hangry mood. Thanks Edward for bringing them! Once we got to our car, we changed shoes and got comfortable.

We ate in Rowland Heights since it was on our way back home. Then called it a day. After hanging out with each other for 8 hours, we concluded that we were all best friends at a friendship level of 4. Who knows what that level really means but what matters is that we are all best friends! #insidejoke

Thank you Cindy, Stacy, Edward and Tim for joining me on this hike! It was a lot of fun singing in harmony during the car ride. This hike was a nice short and sweet one day get away from Orange County!

Grand Year, Grand Canyon!

Ah! Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Leap Year! Oh man, I can’t believe I missed sharing all those holidays on my blog. Better late than never, right?

So many memories took place in 2015 that I have yet to share on TTT! There will be plenty of #ThrowBackThursdays to share here.

It’s crazy how time flies. I’m so surprised how today is the last day of February! Now, let the March Madness begin!

I told myself that I’m going to post my first trip of 2016 before February ends. So here I am now!

Meet my friend, Cindy. We met about three years ago at work and hit it off the first day we met each other. Oh gosh, just to clarify we’re not dating. We’re just friends. We actually don’t work together anymore but still stay in contact a little too much.

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Back in the fall of 2015, she invited me to go to Grand Canyon with her and her friends. The trip was planned for the first weekend of January. I was a little hesitant to go at first simply because it was happening the first weekend of January. It was just too soon for me to plan something that far advance in the new year but then I thought YOLO. Right after that, I had no hesitation to go.

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Ok, so we left on a Sunday afternoon. I think we spent about 6 or 8 hours driving and making stops. We spent two nights at an AirBnB in Flagstaff, Arizona. Our stay was perfect for 8 people!

Monday morning, we had breakfast, packed lunch for our hike and headed towards Grand Canyon. It was freezing when we got there! I quickly lost mobility in my hands and had to layer up! Once we started walking around though, I felt a little more alive.

There were multiple trails to hike through but we ended up taking South Kaibab Trail!

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We probably hiked for about 4 hours round trip. Even though it was only a 3 mile hike, going down was challenging initially. There were moments where you had to use your core to control yourself from not falling since it was slippery hiking downhill.  At some point, we got the hang of it going downhill.

It was a magical hike going down as it was snowing! The view everywhere around us was breathtaking!

We took a good amount of breaks to take pictures and to catch some breath. In the picture below, it was crazy to see that there was no snow right behind us but in front of us, there was plenty of snow. It was a little funny how nature was working that day.

When we were hiking, I remember thinking, “We are never going to get down there!” Seeing the skinny trails ahead of us seemed impossible for us to get to our final destination.

We ended up getting to the flat area a lot faster than expected! I had so much adrenaline that I wanted to keep going but we couldn’t go all the way to the bottom due to time. We wanted to make it back before the sun was setting.

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We spent some time enjoying the view and of course, taking jumping pictures.

It was pretty brutal going back up. I think we were all breathing heavily and dreading each step we took.

The uphill inclination was quite steep and trying to be cautious to not step on special gifts that mules left behind made it even more challenging.

We all agreed that it was a good idea that we didn’t go further down because that uphill would have been worse and we would have been more tired.

As we were going back up, we had some intense snowball fights. I got hit and was fatally wounded.  Just kidding. I did get hit but it was by accident. Well, I like to believe that it was by accident.

Definitely at the end of the hike, the craziest snowball fight happened and there is evidence of it in the picture above.

It was bittersweet finishing the hike. I was relieved that that we had made it to the top but I had immediately missed the scenic view.

After the hike, we treated ourselves to some pizza and wings! Then we went to our AirBnB home and played an intense game of darts. That game was way too fun. I got bulls eye at least three times that night! It was all by God’s grace that had happened! GG, everyone!

The next morning, we packed up our belongings to go back home. I’m not sure which route we took to go back but it was a scenic one! Major photo credit to Kevin Yoon for taking some awesome pictures on my DSLR!

Cindy kept asking me throughout the whole trip, “Who invited you?” She asked me numerous times with a serious face. Oh Cindy, it was you who invited me. You, my friend. You.

One last group selfie before this post comes to an end! Everyone looks great in the picture below!

Thank you to new and old friends for making this trip so much fun! Big thanks to Kevin and Tim for driving us around! Thank you again, Cindy, for inviting me! Thank you to Rachel, Andy, and Preston for being so hospitable!

I’m so thankful to have started the new year with this trip! What a grand year 2016 will be! I’m excited for more opportunities to travel this year! More adventures to come!

Oh yeah, one more video to share with everyone! Here’s a video I put together from all the random recordings I had on my phone and camera. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Birthday Extravaganza – Part 2

My coworkers threw me a fiesta! Huge thanks to my department for making this all colorful and having endless amounts of sweets on desk from Snickers bars to donuts to Nothing Bundt Cakes!

Oh and yes, that is a piñata hanging from the ceiling!

One of my coworkers highly encouraged me to take one of those hipster, Pinterest-y pictures with my birthday cake and balloons. It was one hilarious photoshoot taken at work that I could not contain myself. I’m surprised that I didn’t drop the cake!

By the way, the piñata is stuffed with candy! Thanks Eric!

Thanks friends for wearing the party hats and taking a picture with me! Again, many thanks to my department for making my birthday special!

Birthday Extravaganza – Part 1

Woah, it’s been five months and a few weeks since I last blogged! I apologize for being MIA. Sometimes, you just have fun in life and forget to share it! That’s pretty much what happened to me.

I don’t even know where to begin but I’ll just share with you the most recent celebration. August was my birthday month! Yay me and for all those Leos out there! I always want to try to maximize my birthday month or even just any holiday month all for fun. Why not find a reason to have fun everyday, right? For my birthday month, I decided to wear a dress every day until the 20th, my real birthday. I was surprised at how many dresses I owned. It wasn’t even a struggle to figure out what to dress to wear each day. I just grabbed whatever I found first but saved the best ones for last.

Unfortunately, I did not take any selfies of my 20 days of dresses to show proof that I did it. If you don’t believe me then feel free to talk to my coworkers. They have witnessed me wearing a dress everyday!

Even though it’s over, I still continue to wear dresses. I may have gained some weight from wearing a dress everyday. My dresses tend to leave more room for dessert than pants hence the gain in weight. At the end of this dress extravaganza, I realized I probably own about 30 dresses. It’s not even funny.

Side note: My best friend and I made a pact this year to not go shopping unless we need to or if we have a gift card so we can save money and not become materialistic. We’ve been pretty good so far to not buy anything unless it’s a necessity. I think doing this 20 days of dresses confirmed even more so that I don’t need any more dresses or even clothes in general. I’m sure I still have a few dresses in my closet that I have yet to wear once or even twice maybe.

Aside from this 20 days of dresses, I celebrated my birthday a few times with friends and family. First one was a potluck at the park! Thank you friends for bringing all kinds of food! We had homemade guac, Costco food, salads, fruit, desserts, a lot of cold drinks and so much more! There was definitely a lot of food!

Thank you Kat for stopping by! I know you had a busy summer but really appreciated your presence there and with all the fruit you brought!

Hannerz! Thank you so much for making the long drive to come here! Thank you for bringing the wraps and keeping them cool using your mother-in-law’s ice packs! I know I need to return those to you still! Thanks for the gift as well!

Derek, I can’t believe you biked 10 miles to get here! Thank you for making it alive! Phil, that Almond Haus drink doe. What an awesome gift, thank you! CindyxBindy, thank you for the precious cake and the bluetooth! I feel so hip like you now! Briana, thank you for bringing fancy sushi and always surprising me with practical gifts on my birthday! Aaron, thank you for bringing chicken tenders from Carl’s Jr! I think it was a healthier choice to bring chicken tenders over them McNuggets.

Peter and Jenn, thank you for bringing Costco pizza! Thank you for being considerate of vegetarians and thanks for the gifts! Thank you Jamakea and Dan for each bringing a salad! And those flowers were beautiful, thank you! Winston, thanks for bringing so much dessert! Costco’s apple pie and cheesecake can never go wrong!

Ben, thanks for driving to multiple markets to look for Capri Sun drinks. Even though they were nowhere to be found, luckily the party was able to continue without them. No but really, thank you for bringing all the drinks and keeping them cold with ice! Kat, thanks for coming to my potluck instead of going to your bootcamp and thank you for the cookies! Matt and Alana, thank you for the chicken quinoa and the homemade guac dip! Delicious!

I know I didn’t get to take a picture with everyone who came but shoutouts to Elaine Linda, Andrea, Dan, and Dasom for coming! Thank you Elaine and Linda for coming over to make the guac and pasta salad with so much love! Andrea, thank you for stopping by and bringing food! Dan, that Mexican ice cream was amazing! Thank you for sharing it with me! Dasom, I was so happy to see you there! Thank you for the giant balloon and the sacrifice you went through to purchase it!

Thank you, thank you my friends for bringing all this wonderful food! Thank you for taking that extra time to prepare or purchase the food you brought. Everything was so good that I think We should have another potluck soon!

AirBnB in LA

Finding a place to spend one night in LA was quite of a challenge in a fun way. There are way too many cute places to stay at in LA through AirBnB. I highly suggest you to avoid spending the night in any LA hotels because it is overly priced and parking your car in a structure can be almost as expensive as $40. So, no thanks. Go through AirBnB and you will find a lot of artsy studio apartments or houses that are so unique to LA compared to any other areas.

Linda and I found a cute little two bedroom house in LA that was on top of a hill overlooking Downtown LA. It was 10 minutes away from Chinatown, Fashion District, and all sorts of fun places!

The house we stayed at had some eccentric artworks on the wall. They definitely caught our attention.

This huge red orange canvas on the wall definitely illuminated the room!

All the guests who stayed at this house through AirBnB wrote such sweet and loving notes to the host on this white board!

We walked around so much in that afternoon that we decided to relax outside on the patio for the night.

We had such a great view of LA from where we were! I would love to come back here if time permits next time! It was affordable and convenient to stay here! Thanks Linda and AirBnB for a short and sweet adventure in LA!